MELAKA: The state government will develop and rebrand Pulau Besar as a tourist resort and free trade zone in efforts to eliminate superstitious and sacred activities on the island, said Chief Minister Adly Zahari.
He said the island has potential to be developed like Pulau Langkawi and to be turned into a centre for the production of local products such as cocoa, thus generating economic activities for the local community.
“Efforts to curb superstitious and sacred activities on Pulau Besar previously had failed because the island was not developed, neglected and isolated. No new product was produced there resulting in the area being abused by some groups.
“With the implementation of planned and comprehensive development, some superstitious activities on the island can be eliminated, thus cleaning up the area,” he said at a press conference after the state executive council meeting here.
Commenting further, he said the development needed proper planning as it involved several issues, including the application for a tax-free zone for several other products besides liquor which had been obtained earlier and the land ownership on the island involving several individuals besides the Melaka State Development Corporation.
He said the development must be carried out immediately although it involved long-term projects because the state government and Tenaga Nasional Berhad had made massive investments of about RM30mil to supply electricity on the island without gaining any return as there was no economic activity.
On the position of several old graves which had been turned into sacred and superstitious sites on the island, Adly said they were a part of historical sites which would be retained but new development would be continued according to its suitability as a tax-free island and tourist destination.
He said the state government would also gazette the island’s undersea pipeline area as a restricted area for fishing following four cases of pipe leakage supplying clean water to the island which occurred within a two-year period lately, resulting in losses of RM1.5mil for repair works which had to be borne by Syarikat Air Melaka Berhad.